The Milwaukee Admirals won 5-3 against the Texas Stars at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena on Friday night.
The Admirals power-play had been struggling for a long stretch in recent weeks. Tonight the Admirals scored three power-play goals as Anders Lindbäck fought off waves of shots by the Stars early. The Admirals are now on a three-game winning streak. And Lindbäck has become the eighth Admirals goaltender in team history to record thirty wins in a single season.
“I looked at it before the game and I saw that opportunity was there,” smiled Anders Lindbäck. “I think that’s good. It says I’ve been playing well this year and been giving the team a chance to win every night.”
The Stars would get on the board first following a questionable slashing call against Brandon Bollig. Curtis McKenzie nearly fumbled the puck as he was skating down the slot. It may have helped him as he shrugged back across his run to get a shot up and over the right pad of Anders Lindbäck to pick up the power-play goal and record his twenty-fifth goal of the season.
It wouldn’t take too long in the first period before the Admirals had a power-play response of their own. Harry Zolnierczyk earned a tripping call against Reece Scarlett and would then spearhead a rush down the left wing. His eventual shot managed to squeeze past Landon Bow for his nineteenth goal of the season.
The second period opened up poorly for the Admirals. Both sides of the Trevor Murphy trade ended up getting called for tripping minors that gave the Stars a five-on-three power-play for fifty-two seconds. Justin Dowling wasted little time on the two-man advantage and rifled a slap shot past the glove of Lindbäck for his twelfth goal of the season.
Tyler Kelleher’s strange trips to the visitor’s side of the penalty box continued in his second trip to Milwaukee since being traded to the Stars. After taking his second penalty of the night he set the stage for the game’s fourth power-play goal to be produced. Frédérick Gaudreau delivered a beauty of a shot as he worked down the left wing circle and was able to beat Bow to the near pipe over his right shoulder to notch his nineteenth goal of the season and make it a 2-2 game.
Late in the second period the game finally had a goal scored at even strength. The entire line of McNeill with Tyler Gaudet and Yakov Trenin was buzzing. Trenin almost had a goal on a redirect but the Admirals reset and got their answer.
McNeill put a shot on target from the left wing. The puck trickled loose and Trenin pushed it underneath the right toe of Bow and Gaudet raced in to clean up and score his twelfth goal of the season. The Admirals had their first lead of the night from Gaudet’s first goal as a member of the Admirals.
“It feels great,” said Gaudet of getting off the mark with the Admirals. “I have been trying to press for that for awhile now so it’s good to get that off my back.”
The third period opened with the third power-play goal of the night from the Admirals. Mark Zengerle guided a pass down the left wing for McNeill who unleashed about a half-season’s worth of fury into a slap shot that blazed Bow for his thirteenth of the season.
“Our power-play literally sucked a couple of weeks ago,” stated Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. “We didn’t have success. Obviously tonight having three helps. Your power-play needs to pick you up and our power-play definitely picked us up in tonight’s hockey game.”
Once again, the Admirals found themselves short two men and providing the Stars a lengthy power-play chance. The Stars had forty-seconds of five-on-three. The Admirals managed to work out of the first half but the pressure allowed the Stars a chance to get on the board.
Andrew Bodnarchuk put a low shot on Lindbäck from the left wing wall and it rebounded into the path of Sheldon Dries for a backhanded finish. Dries had his eighteenth goal of the season and narrowed the Admirals lead to 4-3.
With 1:27 remaining in regulation Bow would make it to the bench to get the extra attacker on the ice for the Stars. The Admirals would clear up ice and the captain Trevor Smith polished off this one tonight with the empty netter. Smith’s fifteenth goal of the season made it a 5-3 final.
Yes, the Stars did score three power-play goals tonight but this was another strong outing in net by Lindbäck. The Admirals started the game with some rust and it required his calm presence in net to battle through the lull stretch. He stopped 35/38 in what was his thirtieth win of the season. The last Admirals goaltender to reach thirty wins in a season was Jeremy Smith back in 2011-12 when he won thirty-one.
“I think it’s the first season ever I played that I got thirty wins,” said Lindbäck. “It’s an accomplishment but I’m not happy, not satisfied with that. We’re looking forward to add a couple more here as we get into the playoffs. That would be great.”
The Admirals will be back at it tomorrow night at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena. It will be the final meeting of the regular season against the Grand Rapids Griffins and the game starts at 6:00 PM CDT.
Ramblings: Since the Milwaukee Admirals played last Sunday they released both Nolan Valleau and Ryan Penny from their professional try-out (PTO) contracts. Additionally, the Nashville Predators assigned goaltender Matt O’Connor to the Milwaukee Admirals from his loan with the Wheeling Nailers. Tonight’s line combinations and defensive pairings were: Richard-Smith-Butler, Zolnierczyk-Pettersson-Gaudreau, Trenin-Gaudet-McNeill, Bollig-Zengerle-Moy, Carrier-Ramage, Allard-Granberg, Oligny-Dougherty. Tonight’s scratches included: Cody Bass (upper-body), Justin Kirkland (upper-body), Joonas Lyytinen (undisclosed), and Trevor Mingoia (undisclosed).
What is your reaction to tonight’s game? How impressive has Mark McNeill been lately for the Milwaukee Admirals? Do you think the Admirals can carry this effort into tomorrow night’s game?
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